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I Promise Not To Suffer by Gail Storey {book review}


I often write for cathartic reasons.  Without this way of releasing my life details and feelings, the possibility of a self implosion is great.  I got the impression that Gail Storey writes for the same reason.  This memoir, I Promise Not To Suffer, tracks the 2,663 miles Storey and her husband attempt to hike – the Pacific Crest Trail – over a 6 month period.  Often times the PCT tales seem like a vehicle for Storey to mostly write about her life, specifically her past transgressions and complicated relationships. She cleverly intertwines the two topics and I think she pulls it off.

i promise not to suffer book review in_the_know_mom

“I never cared much for nature, or rather, thought it okay as long as it stayed outside.”  That is how the book starts out, really setting the tone.  My first thought was, “she’ll never make it.”  My second thought was, “she must really love her husband.”  See, this was all his idea, the outdoorsman that he is, and she just tags along on the hike over mountainous terrain from Mexico to Canada.  Anything for love!  I suspected from the beginning that she likes nature more than she lets on, but let’s just say she is not the typical PCT hiker (young, male, fond of camping).

Living in Palm Springs, CA, I was so excited for Storey and husband, Porter, to hike into my town. They got pretty close, tromping through one of my favorite vacation escapes of Idyllwild.  She even mentioned walking through the wind farm, which I can see from my street.  The sound they release is quite overwhelming up close… the whomp whomp whomp…. I read most of this book lying in a hammock in my backyard, my view the stunning San Jacinto mountains, which Storey had conquered.

i promise not to suffer book review in_the_know_mom

This fact made it easy for me to sink into the book and appreciate how difficult the hike must be.  These mountains are unforgiving and dangerous with super slippy footing.  The climate is extreme, ranging from snow to blistering heat. And they are just the beginning… hello High Sierras and Cascade Range!  Though Storey keeps the tales of the trails pretty upbeat and distracts with her life musings, I know it must have been a real bear… or mountain lion.

Porter, a hospice doctor, resigns from his job and the couple sell their house, along with some belongings to fund this 6 month hike.  The word that comes to mind here is courageous, but they both needed the hike to regroup.  Porter worked hard researching, buying and even crafting the most lightweight gear he could.  When you are hiking 20 miles a day, the lighter the pack the better.  They didn’t even bring a tent!  *gasp face*  That would be a deal breaker for me.  I found the amount of planning and thought that goes into this hike to be fascinating.  I also loved learning about the trail etiquette and found the camaraderie of fellow hikers to be really something special.

I consider myself pretty outdoorsy but if my husband suggested hiking the PCT, well, it would be one short conversation ending with a big no… or maybe now I would consider it when the kids are grown.  If Gail can do it, so can I!  I think…The scariest part for me is not the physical exhaustion, though that would be rough, but the mental exhaustion and all that time to think.  Storey struggles with this as well, really getting into her own head. Though I imagine hiking is much like writing for her, in that it can be very cathartic, so she is able to sort some things out.

I recommend I Promise Not to Suffer: A Fool For Love Hikes the Pacific Crest Trail, the perfect length for the Labor Day Weekend by the pool or in the sand.  You will find Storey to be quite adorable and relatable.  While she takes you on her incredible journey across the PCT, she herself takes another journey, a personal one in which she explores her marriage, her relationship with her dying mother and her past (and a deep-seeded questioning of choices she made as a young woman…which I can totally relate to).  It is an easy read that has a great flow.  Storey writes effortlessly and allows her great personality to shine through the cracks.  In the end I was rooting for not only Gail and Porter but love in general.  Team LOVE!

If you were wondering, yes, there are still married!  Could your marriage survive the trials of the PCT?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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6 Comments

  1. August 30, 2013 at 1:05 pm — Reply

    I was looking for a good book this weekend! Thanks for the suggestion!

  2. August 30, 2013 at 3:02 pm — Reply

    Sounds like a good book. I’m pretty outdoorsy, but my husband is definitely NOT!

  3. August 30, 2013 at 3:13 pm — Reply

    Wow, what an adventure that must have been, it takes a strong person to do this – putting it on my must-read list!

  4. August 30, 2013 at 3:22 pm — Reply

    Great review! I honestly don’t think I’d have the patience to make the whole trip without throttling my husband…LOL

  5. August 30, 2013 at 7:19 pm — Reply

    That would be some hike… But it sounds like a great weekend read.

  6. September 2, 2013 at 5:37 pm — Reply

    Thank you, Sarah, for this spectacular review of my book! You totally got the dimensions of I Promise Not to Suffer, and you expressed them so well that I understood them better myself! I love your writing, and cherish the photo of you reading the book. I’ll never forget looking down onto glimmering Palm Springs one evening from the Pacific Crest Trail, and it warms my heart to know you’re in Palm Springs looking up at the Pacific Crest Trail. Thanks again, and I’d love to stay in touch!

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